Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

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Vaginal Fantasy General > Why don't more men read romance?

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message 1: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth Clause (Sixfiveotwo) | 17 comments Felicia just asked this at a PAX East Q & A


message 2: by Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) (last edited Apr 07, 2012 05:35PM) (new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) (Gatadelafuente) | 32 comments I think that many think they are just for women, which isn't necessarily the case. Also I feel that many more read romance than will own up to it.


message 3: by Kenneth (new)

Kenneth Clause (Sixfiveotwo) | 17 comments I'm usually uncomfortable with the 'physically perfect' male that's in so many of these books. I'm not sure why.


 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) (Gatadelafuente) | 32 comments While I think that is a staple of some romance books, I've found a lot that don't have the physically perfect hero. I seek out the less than perfect H/h's because I liked flawed characters more.


message 5: by Ruchi (new)

Ruchi (Tetchimon) | 19 comments I agree with what Lady Danielle said to a certain extent- there will be some that just won't own up to it. It's kind of embarrassing for some women to (yes, I do prefer ebooks over paperbacks for this reason, bite me), so I don't doubt that men will find it awkward, too. The whole genre has a bad reputation for being girl porn, so it does have a stigma attached to it.

Secondly, it might be because, while you're reading some books, it's pretty obvious to figure out who the target audience is. While most books aren't necessarily for women, they certainly pander towards them.


message 6: by SesameG (new)

SesameG | 45 comments I think you're right, Lady Danielle. I used to work in a library and there were old guys who had no issues taking out a stack of westerns mixed in with romance novels. Others wouldn't have been caught dead with the romances, but had a stack of the same type of lusty westerns. I guess as long as there are horses, it's still manly. Hell, most women still don't want to be seen with a lurid romance cover on the subway. Would be interesting to get stats on male romance readers now that e-readers are here.

Interesting to get your point of view, Kenneth. I think many women actually prefer romance heros who aren't physically perfect, as long as they're still strong and masculine - but yeah, they're often written as being a foot taller than any other human, ripped, and so gorgeous that people faint dead away at the mere sight of them.


message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather Hay (GraphicNovelLibraryDork) | 3 comments I work in a library as well and many of our "western" paperbacks have dog eared pages. I noticed that one of our patrons was tagging the "love" scenes for future reference.
The sex scenes in the westerns I picked up had completely different descriptions than a romance novel, and the relationship between the lovers was seriously downplayed. I would describe the love in the western as gritty slapstick nooners and some romance novels emphasize serious spooning.

Just something I thought about since SesameG mentioned westerns in the library.


message 8: by SesameG (new)

SesameG | 45 comments oh man, now I have to try reading one to educate myself - if I'm ever locked on a cabin for 8 months with nothing but Longarms on the bookshelf


message 9: by Aaron (new)

Aaron (syar) I don't have a problem reading romance as I read whatever I am in the mood for, that being said I tend to read Swedish crime and a lot of fantasy and sci-fi. I have found that the kindle has made it easier for me to read them as people can't see the cover.

When I started reading romance I had preconceptions about the authors always writing the perfect guy. Luckily 99% of what I have read seem to portray realistic/flawed guys and the one that I read that did have a perfect guy was so horrid of a read I didn't finish it. Like I said I don't read a lot of romance but it's not like I actively avoid them


message 10: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin | 227 comments I'm not a guy, so I'm just guessing here, but I'd guess it has to do with society's acceptance of homophobia. Even if a guy thinks being gay is acceptable, I've found most have a visceral reaction if they think others are accusing them of being gay. Reading a description of the male body probably evokes the same visceral, knee-jerk reaction of "dude, I'm not gay!".


message 11: by Chadd (new)

Chadd (Dagolara) | 1 comments I have no issues with reading romance, in fact I usually enjoy it. If the story intrigues me, I'll take a look at it regardless of the genre it is classified as.


message 12: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (asquinn) | 4 comments I've read a fair share of M/M romance, but this will be my first book of this type.


message 13: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments i do read any kind of books but i'd rether be dead than found reading a romance in public (the covers are awkward)


message 14: by Nathan (last edited Apr 09, 2012 07:51PM) (new)

Nathan | 7 comments I read Romance.
I'm not ashamed to admit it. I like strong female leads and often gravitate towards novels that reflect that. I don't think reading Romance novels is a reflection of one's sexual orientation and it is insulting when people use all encompassing labels to describe others. I'm sure there are gay men that read Romance novels but that doesn't mean every man that read one is gay. I think when people label others it is often a reflection of their self hatred. Its such a shame when people get bogged down in the gender of the narrator and forgo a good story for outdated sexual labels.

Nevertheless, I have come to love novels that feature strong female main characters. Maybe this is for a different subject, but the author has to be able write. There are some novels that are horribly written (like:Nina Harper's Succubus in the City) and others that are amazingly rich and vibrant (Richelle Mead's Georgina Kincaid and Dark Swan series). There doesn't seem to be a middle ground to stand on. The novels are either really good or horrible attempts and novelizing Sex and The City. I think that is where many men get annoyed. It could be the subject matter of the plot that keeps them from reading. I've found novels that incorporate romance but keep that as a part of character development instead of the plot tend to have many avid male readers (Kim Harrison's The Hollows series for instance).
Storm Born (Dark Swan, #1) by Richelle Mead Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid, #1) by Richelle Mead Succubus in the City (Succubus, #1) by Nina Harper Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1) by Kim Harrison


message 15: by seth (new)

seth chapin (djnimbus) | 14 comments "I'm sure there are gay men that read Romance novels but that doesn't mean every man that read one is gay. I think when people label others it is often a reflection of their self hatred. Its such a shame when people get bogged down in the gender of the narrator and forgo a good story for outdated sexual labels. "

Well said, Nathan!


message 16: by Molly (new)

Molly (AnIllLuckName) | 143 comments We actually talked about this in a Gender Studies course I took awhile back. I think more guys read them than you'd think, even if they're skimmed from the wife/girlfriend's collection. A few people in my class said that their dads openly read romance novels and really enjoyed them.


message 17: by Nathan (last edited Apr 10, 2012 06:43PM) (new)

Nathan | 7 comments Seth wrote: "Well said, Nathan!"


Thank you!

Molly,
I'm glad to hear. I think there could also be a regional difference as my experience with southerners has not been too liberal, as to be expected, but men who read romance novels all appear to be secure. I agree with you in that couples tend to read/skim them together. My friend, Peter, refused to read anything with a female narrator after reading Bitten by Kelley Armstrong until his girlfriend got him into Richelle Mead's YA series, Vampire Academy.


Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1) by Richelle Mead Bitten (Women of the Otherworld, #1) by Kelley Armstrong


message 18: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Marsh | 22 comments I've asked my husband this question, and for him, its not that it romance per say, but he has a harder time getting into books with female leads. He just can't identify with them enough to get interested; and most fantasy romance books have female leads. He also can't stand the covers:)


message 19: by Maria (new)

Maria | 7 comments My hubby & I read a lot of the same urban/paranormal fantasy books. Often they could be considered Vaginal Fantasy (i.e. Sookie Stackhouse). When I asked him why he didn't read more romance he reminded me he was a Romantic. But he looks for a style of book (cyber punk, thriller, historical, space opera) and appreciates them more when there is a romance instead of just sex. However, those styles aren't usually in the Romance section & there are few in those genre that focus on romance.

We both love Sharon Lee & Steve Miller who write amazing space opera with strong romance. But their stories don't use the romance to shape the plot, the plot is enriched by the romance. My problem with Romance is that usually the whole point is to fall in love & live happily ever after (but I've read scores of just that sort & will continue to do so). However, sometimes I want more story than that, more adventure, etc. My hubby & I really agree on that. That might be why more men don't admit to or read more romance.

I gave my buddy's boyfriend the Iron Duke to read b/c he wasn't unnerved by things being "a little rape-y." I can't wait to see what his thoughts are on this book. We'll see. :)


message 20: by Epic (new)

Epic Sex Stories (EpicSexStories) | 7 comments Women want more romance in their sex while men want more sex with their romance.


message 21: by Liz (new)

Liz | 2 comments My husband happily reads romance oriented books, but he doesn't read straight romance. He just likes his sic-fi/fantasy to have romance in it. As do I.

In fact, when I told him I was starting to follow the Vaginal Fantasy group, he got excited and asked me to pass on recommendations for more 'sexy books.'


message 22: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 54 comments So no one's mentioned this yet, but lots of guys write romance. And I'm not talking about fantasy novels with sex in them. I mean Harlequin-romance-all-about-the-nooky trade paperback novels that you find in the grocery checkout line. In fact, some international surveys have found that some strictly-romance publishing houses have a writing stable that's 40% male. Most of these guys write under pseudonyms, but they're definitely out there.


message 23: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Ashley wrote: "So no one's mentioned this yet, but lots of guys write romance. And I'm not talking about fantasy novels with sex in them. I mean Harlequin-romance-all-about-the-nooky trade paperback novels that..."

i really loved nickolas spark's "dear john" book(but hated the movie)


Kaleigh Breedlove I think some of it has to do with the fact that men are visual while women tend to be more feelings based. For us, the story is important, the love or the ferocity or the insatiability. This is why you hear women say "That never happens in real life! She wouldn't be pouring milk all over herself in the kitchen, she'd have to clean up a HUGE mess" about porn while men are just interested in the visual appeal of the acts. I think though, that with a good imagination, they could visualize the lusty stuff portrayed in romance novels, especially particularly smutty ones, well enough to "do their thing".


message 25: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Kaleigh Breedlove wrote: "I think some of it has to do with the fact that men are visual while women tend to be more feelings based. For us, the story is important, the love or the ferocity or the insatiability. This is why..."

thank you very much for ruining my appetite...


message 26: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Harlow (Jennifer_Harlow) | 13 comments I think if I'm pressured to Cosmo to learn how to be sexier and give a better blowjob men should be put under pressure to read a romance novel to learn what we like. Who's with me?


message 27: by Juliet (new)

Juliet Hotel | 4 comments The Cosmopolitan stuff is crap :D If you want to give better blowjobs its practice that makes perfect. And as a man.

I don't like romance that's just smut, if the relationships don't make sense and the story sucks then I'm not going to read it.

Men don't even need smut, we have internet porn.

- What I have found personally though while reading Patricia Brigg's is that how the narrative itself is written is effeminate, since the inner dialogue of the writer herself is most likely to be, hence why women tend to gravitate towards female writers and men towards men. It's just a matter of it being more natural and comfortable to digest.


message 28: by Juliet (last edited Nov 29, 2012 12:57PM) (new)

Juliet Hotel | 4 comments If more men wrote more Romance designed for MEN and not women, then maybe we would have a greater interest in reading it. But most Romance is for women who crave the dramatic and romantic to a much greater degree.

If you were to write a Romance for a man I'd suggest concentrating on the stresses that men have as playing the "Man" role, or Husband or Father role. We need something to relate to if we're going to be immersed into the story and enjoy it, otherwise what's the point in reading escapism if you can't escape? Hence why men enjoy the strong-female characters, it's an easier relationship.


message 29: by Andrew (new)

Andrew (asquinn) | 4 comments Jennifer wrote: "I think if I'm pressured to Cosmo to learn how to be sexier and give a better blowjob men should be put under pressure to read a romance novel to learn what we like. Who's with me?"

If you want to learn how to give a better bj, just ask your gay friends. We will help!


message 30: by Paul (new)

Paul | 49 comments I think the issue is that the plots of most romance books just aren't what a guy wants to read. So-called paranormal romance books are interesting to men, because of the paranormal aspect, whereas "traditional" romances aren't particularly interesting.

In other words, a guy will read a book about something else that has romance in it, but is not so interested in a book where the entire plot revolves around the romance.


message 31: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments Jennifer wrote: "I think if I'm pressured to Cosmo to learn how to be sexier and give a better blowjob men should be put under pressure to read a romance novel to learn what we like. Who's with me?"

are you some kind of succubus in training?


message 32: by Tof (last edited Dec 02, 2012 06:52PM) (new)

Tof Eklund (tofeklund) | 3 comments It took me a long time to come around to reading things *branded* as romance. I've loved most of the things that characterize well-written romances since childhood: strong female leads, equality in relationships, and as I hit puberty, sexual tension and something meaningful in a relationship that makes sex (if and when it happens) matter.

I sought out romances, but avoided "romance novels" because I thought they were full of women who swoon over men who are dominant in every way.

Only recently have I begun to figure out that this fantasy (of male dominance and swooning women) was actually was more a characteristic of the action movies I hate than of the romances I thought I wouldn't like.


message 33: by Mitchell (new)

Mitchell | 1 comments For me I think it was a number of things. First just the preconceived idea of what a romance novel was. Skimming across the covers of "romance" books at the supermarket never made me go "wow, that looks interesting", and with so many things sometimes the worst stands out the most *cough Twilight cough*.

Also, having a pile of books I want to read and haven't gotten to yet, I didn't really see the need to try a genre I didn't have any interest in.

Third, I like books not set in the real world. Take a story and give it a sci-fi or fantasy setting and I'll enjoy it more. Until Vaginal Fantasy I had no idea that there were romance novels with zombies, steampunk, and cyborg octopi.

So thanks Felicia for opening up a whole new genre of fiction I probably wouldn't have ever sought out on my own.


message 34: by Sanasai (new)

Sanasai | 52 comments Since he'd rather read over my shoulder than come post it here himself, here's my guy's 2 cents on the question: format is the crucial thing for him. He'll spend hours watching anime or playing visual novels where the characters are all about love and romance, getting all kinds of sappy over their drama, because having that art style and the voice actors that he likes makes it appealing and accessible for him. But a book that is primarily about romance just doesn't have the same pull for him as these shows do. Back to my opinion: I think some people (of either gender) enjoy more of the feedback of seeing drawn or acted body language or vocal cues that deliver the romantic messages. For the two of us at least, reading vs. watching is just a matter of your preferred input, similar to traditional books vs. audio books.


message 35: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 938 comments I hope no one among you will get offended, but another thing that pulls men away from romance novels are women themselves; and I'm not talking about authors and heroines of novels, but about the judgy ones that keep believing in some outdated stereotypes. You won't believe the weard, almost disgusted, looks I was given while getting "dead to the world" from my local library.


message 36: by Michael (new)

Michael | 12 comments I think for me I have problem with romance novels not because of female protagonists, but because of weak female protagonists. I think that is why I like paranormal romance with kick-ass main characters. I just can't get behind the female character waiting to be rescued.


message 37: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca L | 2 comments All my grandfather read ( while I was growing up) was romance novels. He used to have a basket full of them next to his arm chair. I always thought it was funny because this normal Midwestern farmer was reading harlequin romances. :)


message 38: by Garth (new)

Garth Holden I personally came to romance via Pern (the one with dragons not Porn the one with drag-queens). I was lucky to grow up in an open household (nobody gave me any crap for reading speculative fiction) so I didn't notice that I was drawn to strong female characters until I was old enough not to care what others thought. As an adult I was lucky enough to stumble on my local chapter of the Romance Writers of America. I think the "trash" tag forces romance writers to up their game and because of that the readers demand higher standards. You don't sit down at the RWA table without bringing your A game. If you are a writer of any genre check out your local RWA chapter and your work will be better for it. No roamce is ever about the groiny bits -- having a partner just makes it easier to solve the crime, or save the town, or blow up the space station.
@ jennifer there is no such thing as a bad blow job and anyone who thinks there is doesn't deserve one.


message 39: by Mike (last edited Dec 15, 2012 12:10PM) (new)

Mike | 33 comments I think it's ultimately nature's fault. Most entertainment, being it book, movie or otherwise, is mostly geared towards the kings of the hills. And who's mostly at these tops? Straight, white men (damn us). It's lame, and damn boring personally, but it's where us outter-box-thunkers help remold the rules. Great groups like this are fantastic for dispelling such needless notions.

Oh, no bad BJs? (view spoiler) Little Mikey was ruined for weeks. Couldn't pee. Hot showers were horrible… Okay, wasn't quite so bad but constant metal/toothy reminders kills the moment pretty damn quick. Honestly though, learnings part of the fun if taken in stride. I think this is where sources like porn, magazines and friends, with a keen mind, are handy.


message 40: by Peter (new)

Peter | 46 comments I once accidentally went to a movie made from a Mills and Boon novel. Usually I'll suffer a bad movie in relative silence until it ends or I walk out, but I couldn't control my frequent outbursts at the implausible, stupid situations and characters.

Much romance is as stupid and cheesy as most porn, and is similarly written for a single purpose. I prefer stories with a more equal balance of power and desire between the lead characters. Although the woman doesn't have to be kick-ass, she does have to have clear motivations, including something better than "I don't have a/that man". Also, some more interesting plot than "when/will they get it on?". Fantasy addresses this.

I was annoyed by the early Hollows novels because the heroine would frequently get herself into bad situations, then suffer the consequences for too long until some guy acted to change things. However, her world was interesting enough that I persisted, getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of the men and women in it. Eventually she develops more arcane power, clearer motivations and strength of character, and getting into more intimate situations along the way.

I'm currently enjoying "Succubus Blues" because the heroine gets into a few down-and-dirty situations. Although she gets into a few awkward/unpleasant situations, her motivations are understandable, and the fallout is partly or wholly someone else's fault, rather than simple stupidity, desire, etc. Interesting world and characters, although I'm having trouble visualizing some of the characters and their utterly ordinary names.


message 41: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Jackson (paperbackdiva) | 34 comments Peter wrote: "I once accidentally went to a movie made from a Mills and Boon novel. Usually I'll suffer a bad movie in relative silence until it ends or I walk out, but I couldn't control my frequent outbursts a..."

I have to point out that one single movie does not define the genre.


message 42: by Amy (new)

Amy | 58 comments true, but romantic movies (rom-coms I'm looking at you!) by my personal rule of thumb are beyond dreadful.


message 43: by Garth (new)

Garth Holden Oh Mike, your not being able to express your wants and needs in an open and understandable way does not indicate a failure of any kind for your partner. I'm sure he or she did a great job. It was you who forgot to say "Hey, no love bites, okay?" All joking aside, it is sad when we hurt our partners through insecurity, inexperience or inability (to communicate, empathise, understand, etc.). Now on to the King of the Hill stuff. Advertisers caught on to the fact that ladies make most of the purchases in North America (I'm a Canuck, eh!). It amazes me that the emtertainment industry hasn't been able to follow suit. And as you pointed out here we are standing on our soap boxes rather than keeping our thoughts in them.
P.S. Hope Little Mike is feeling better. Mike wrote: "I think it's ultimately nature's fault. Most entertainment, being it book, movie or otherwise, is mostly geared towards the kings of the hills. And who's mostly at these tops? Straight, white men. ..."


message 44: by Peter (new)

Peter | 46 comments Andrea wrote: ...I have to point out that one single movie does not define the genre..."
True, but it is a disincentive, especially since I don't subscribe to the implicit (IMO exaggerated) optimism.


message 45: by Peter (new)

Peter | 46 comments Amy wrote: "true, but romantic movies (rom-coms I'm looking at you!) by my personal rule of thumb are beyond dreadful."

I don't hate all romantic stories, whether in book or movie form. Among movies in that genre that I enjoyed are "About a Boy", "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Love Actually". Reasonably complex, interesting yet flawed characters, and a light touch of humour.

However, you couldn't drag me to see "Sleepless in Seattle. I'd strangle that interfering little boy before I died of saccharine poisoning.


message 46: by Garth (new)

Garth Holden Joia wrote: "Peter wrote: "I don't hate ALL romantic stories... However, you couldn't DRAG me to see 'Sleepless in Seattle'..."

Ugh, yes. The only rom-coms that stand up as good movies have something else goin..."


Oh, the poor misunderstood Rom-Com.

Easily the two hardest genres to write well, trying to live under one roof and all the neighbours can do is complain that the newlyweds are making too much noise. Writing Rom-Com really is the literary equivilent of judgling tea cups while walking the high wire (and they never give us a net).

For me story (especially in a movie) has to be entertaining (read engaging if you fall more on the drama side of the fence)before I can suspend disbelief. The Rom-Com asks us to drop those disbelief gaurds on two fronts. First in accepting that people can be more than the self serving sociopaths advertisers want us to be and can in fact make meaningful mutually beneficial long-term connections. And second that the rediculous premis of the comedy (what ever that may be) would actually happen. That double-whammy combo is hard enough to do in the printed world where all an author has to deal with are an agent, a publishing house, an editor (or three) and the proofing, set up and marketing processes. With movies there are infinitly more people involved in the creative process and for some reason Hollywood treats this complex hybrid know as Romantic Comedy like some kind of redheaded stepchild or second class citizen.

Fot that and many other reasons I tend to be a bit more forgiving of Rom-Com than many. Fiction is the game of what if, so why not what if two (or more) people find each other in strange and hilarious ways?

I come to story from a Joeseph Campbell perspective. Most sucessful fiction can be veiwed from the hero's journey. Setting style aside, if the hero (I use hero as a gender neutral noun -- I'm in the mental health and addicitions field so heroine is a whole other set of complications)visits the Campbellian landmarks (either in an upward or downward spiral)you'll end up with a solid story. So, I'm going to call shinanigans on the remove the sexy fun times litmus test for good romance. It is way too simplistic and does not address the clearly romance driven stories that have little or no sexy fun times. Case in point "Last Holiday". In this clearly romantic comedy the love interests spend 80% of the movie apart and kiss twice. Defining roamance by the sex scenes is a diservice to the genre (that is a better test for good story in erotica me thinks).

I beleive we would be better served as a fan based community to define Romance as stories where the hero recieves an emotional bound as the reward for braving the trials of their journey (rather than looking at the often misleading groiny bits to guide us). And we can tackle the good, bad and ugly classifications based on style, craft and skill like any other genre.


message 47: by Peter (new)

Peter | 46 comments Lisa wrote: "I've asked my husband this question, and for him, its not that it romance per say, but he has a harder time getting into books with female leads. He just can't identify with them enough to get int..."

I personally don't have a problem with female leads, as I like to be aware of the similarities and differences in the ways the other half of the world thinks. However, I do get confused by most references to fashion brands, designers, cosmetics, etc. I still have no clear image of what "fuck me shoes" are.

However, few writers can pull off convincing first-person portrayals of opposite-sex characters, making them difficult to identify with. I've read some very unconvincing examples by both men and women.


message 48: by Peter (new)

Peter | 46 comments Garth wrote: "...define Romance as stories where the hero recieves an emotional bound as the reward for braving the trials of their journey..."
This is an interesting and useful definition. It covers situations as different as:
(1) the 2 porn stars in "Love, Actually" who decide they like each other enough to spend time together with their clothes on,
(2) Lady Janet in "The Ballad of Tam Lim", who rescues him from the fairies and thereby gains a husband. (All sexiness happens off-screen).


message 49: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Lough (chickflix) | 23 comments I think women read romance novels because the characters' emotions play heavily into what we find sexy or romantic. Men are more into movies because its the visual which is most important. Of course this is a generalization, but I think it speaks to men and women's mindsets.


message 50: by Maribeth (new)

Maribeth | 23 comments Stephen Fry once mentioned Georgette Heyer as his guilty pleasure (she is my favorite Romance writer too, but of course I'm guilt free about it!), so maybe a lot of men have read romances but just keep it to themselves?


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Books mentioned in this topic

Succubus in the City (other topics)
Succubus Blues (other topics)
Storm Born (other topics)
Dead Witch Walking (other topics)
Vampire Academy (other topics)
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